I haven’t paid for a hotel room in 10 years — here’s how I stay for free

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A woman and a man in masks talk with a woman in a mask behind a hotel front desk.
Using journey rewards components, it’s attainable to get your hotel stays for free.

I haven’t paid out-of-pocket for a hotel in over ten years, and I doubt I ever will. The overwhelming majority of the time, I use hotel components earned from rewards credit cards. And the one time I’ll pay cash costs is when my agency or shopper is reimbursing me. 

In actuality, I uncover that hotel components are far more versatile and is likely to be much more helpful than frequent flyer miles. That’s as a results of hotel purposes do far a lot much less to restrict award inventory, impose fewer taxes and prices on awards, and even present credit score rating in route of elite standing whilst you pay with components. Best of all, hotel taxes are usually based totally on the amount paid, so my remaining bill is almost on a regular basis $0 when I use components. 

Here are my favorite hotel rewards purposes and the credit cards I use to earn components for free stays, ranked based totally on my personal selection.

We’re centered proper right here on the rewards and perks that embody each card. These enjoying playing cards is not going to be value it in the event you occur to’re paying curiosity or late costs. When using a financial institution card, it’s important to pay your stability in full each month, make funds on time, and solely spend what you’ll afford to pay.

World of Hyatt: High value and a reasonably priced award chart

While most completely different hotel purposes have steadily lowered the value of their reward points, Hyatt components have remained persistently helpful. Award nights start at merely 5,000 components, nonetheless it is best to anticipate to pay 8,000 to fifteen,000 components per evening time at a typical property in small to medium-sized cities, and 20,000 or 25,000 components per evening time at luxurious resorts and in the middle of big cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

I’m a giant fan of staying at Hyatt Place and Hyatt House properties when touring with my family as we often take pride in two queen-sized beds, a sofa mattress, and a free breakfast, usually for merely 8,000 components per evening time. So I persistently acquire in any case 1.5 to 2 cents in value per degree redeemed.

I love that Hyatt wouldn’t impose resort costs on award stays, allowing me to avoid all costs on most stays. However, discover that Hyatt costs further components for peak season awards, and fewer for off-peak. 

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It’s simple to earn Hyatt components and free evening time certificates using The World Of Hyatt Credit Card. New cardholders can earn The World Of Hyatt Credit Card.

You moreover get a free evening time certificates on every card anniversary, reputable at Hyatt Category 1-4 motels, and a second whilst you use your card to spend $15,000 in a calendar 12 months. This card offers you basic Discoverist elite status, 5 qualifying evening time credit score in direction of the next elite diploma yearly, and one different two elite evening time credit score per $5,000 spent.

Small-business householders may additionally take into consideration the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card, which presently has a welcome bonus present of World of Hyatt Business Credit Card.

Wyndham Rewards: Great for journey off the crushed path

The lesser-known Wyndham Rewards program is sweet for two points. First, there are lots of value vary properties in small cities, so it’s ideally suited for freeway journeys and staying in areas the place you’ll not uncover a Hyatt. But additionally it is a unbelievable program to redeem components for stays at journey homes, additionally known as timeshares.

These awards value 15,000 components per mattress room, per evening time, and I usually acquire over 2 cents per degree redeemed at these properties. 

You can earn Wyndham components straight from the Wyndham Rewards® Earner Card and Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card, and I’m a giant fan of the (*10*), which supplies 8x components on gasoline. 

Wyndham Rewards could be a swap companion of Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One miles, so even in the event you occur to don’t want to open a Wyndham-branded card, you have obtained acquired decisions for incomes components.

Hilton Honors: Hotels everywhere in the world at every worth degree

Hilton Honors is a steady program, and naturally, Hilton has a huge number of properties unfold all through over two dozen producers in every worth range.

You can earn components from co-branded Hilton credit cards such as a result of the Hilton Honors American Express Cardand Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. If you accumulate Amex Membership Rewards points with enjoying playing cards similar to the American Express® Gold Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll swap components to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio.

Just discover that each Hilton degree often has a lower value than most completely different hotel components, nonetheless their financial institution playing cards moreover present further components per dollar spent. Therefore, I solely anticipate to acquire about 0.3 to 0.5 cents in value per degree redeemed.

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Another revenue is that Hilton elite standing — which you get mechanically from any of the Amex Hilton financial institution playing cards — will get you the fifth evening time free whilst you e-book 5 or further consecutive commonplace award nights. Like Hyatt, Hilton moreover wouldn’t impose resort costs on award stays. 

Choice Privileges: Budget decisions and high-value potential

Like Wyndham Rewards, you need to use Choice Privileges components to stay in a lot of value vary producers positioned in areas the place you might be unlikely to go looking out a Hyatt or Hilton. The Choice Privileges program accommodates acquainted producers like Comfort Inn, Clarion, Cambria, and Quality Inn.

I’ve moreover found distinctive value in Choice motels accessible all by means of Europe. You can earn these components from the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card, or by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards. In addition, Choice is a swap companion of every Citi and Capital One.

In actuality, Choice will even promote you components at close to 1 cent each, which is often value it whilst you redeem your components for free nights at pricey overseas motels. I anticipate to acquire about 1 to 1.5 cents per degree from the proper areas to redeem rewards. 

Marriott Bonvoy: Thousands of motels, at a worth

Marriott’s program has some sturdy components, however in addition some important flaws. Like Hilton, its power is in its numbers, as a result of it offers 1000’s of properties over dozens of producers. And in some worldwide areas, Marriott components is likely to be very helpful.

But too usually, I uncover that its peak award pricing merely requires methodology too many components in comparability with comparable Hyatt and even Hilton properties. And it imposes resort costs on award stays, which can really add up. That’s why I assume you’d be lucky to acquire 1 cent in value per Marriott degree redeemed, and usually a lot a lot much less.

Chase and Amex issue Marriott Bonvoy credit cards similar to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. These enjoying playing cards every embody annual free evening time awards of assorted values after your cardmember anniversary.

Plus, you’ll swap every Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio. However, I would strongly discourage you from doing in order you’ll most likely end up paying larger than twice as many components as you will to stay in a comparable Hyatt, which could be an Ultimate Rewards swap companion. 

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IHG Rewards: Some good properties, blended value

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has some good properties, nevertheless it certainly’s been a very very long time since I’ve been able to find worthwhile value from this program. You can earn IHG components straight from the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and (*10*) — which give an anniversary free award evening time at motels that value as a lot as 40,000 components — or the no-annual-fee IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card.

You may additionally swap your Chase Ultimate Rewards components or Bilt Rewards points to IHG Rewards, nonetheless as with Marriott, you’ll usually should swap in any case twice as many components to IHG as you will to stay at a comparable Hyatt. I are inclined to acquire about 0.5 cents in value per IHG degree. 

Other strategies I use financial institution card rewards for lodging

Admittedly, staying in properties affiliated with these primary hotel purposes miss a lot of decisions, corresponding to mattress and breakfasts and unbiased motels. Thankfully, there are two catch-all purposes that allow me to utilize financial institution card rewards to stay practically anyplace.

First, there’s the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, which is similar to an web journey firm. As a Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholder, I can redeem points for 50% more value (1.5 cents each) in route of journey booked by Chase.

Using this method, I’ve stayed in every single place from boutique motels in Manhattan to safari lodges in South Africa and even a four-bedroom residence rental in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

There’s another choice once you’ve obtained the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Spark Miles for Business, or Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business. These enjoying playing cards earn Capital One miles, which you need to use to erase any journey purchases made alongside along with your card. Miles are value 1 cent each as assertion credit score in direction of eligible journey costs, along with motels, lodges, resorts, and inns.

Bottom line

If you have obtained been pissed off by attempting to earn and spend frequent flyer miles, perhaps it’s time to take one different take a take a look at hotel rewards. By specializing in the becoming loyalty purposes, and using the becoming financial institution playing cards you’ll stay anyplace you want, with out worrying in regards to the value.

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